Mindful Musings: Jan 8

“An Ode to Leary”

By: Forrest Rivers

blue, pink, and purple house

“An Ode to Leary”

Slow down,

Breathe

Quiet your mind

And Meditate

The world is consumed

By madness….

But you don’t have to

Participate

In the senseless drama

That originates

From the worship of ego

For a wise man once said:

TURN ON

TUNE IN

DROP OUT!

But turn on to what?

Tune in to who

And drop out from Where?

TURN ON

To living spirit

And the most high

TUNE IN

To Mother Nature

And heed her signs

DROP OUT

From this illusion that hides

The Unity of Creation.

Mindful Musings: Dec 31

“Eight Soulful New Year’s Resolutions Everyone can Achieve”

By: Forrest Rivers

monks beside green trees
  1. Start a daily meditation practice-Besides reducing anxiety and stress, meditation helps us deeply connect to our inner most spirit. It also helps break down the walls of separation that keeps us mired in illusion. There is no “correct” way to meditate but the best times to do so are either in the morning when you wake up or sometime in the evening after your day’s work is done.
  2. Volunteer in your community-Mystics of every faith have long celebrated the spirit of service as one of the surest paths to awakening. There are numerous opportunities to serve in this period of pandemic-related suffering. Volunteer at your local food bank, deliver groceries to the elderly, or enlist as a mentor.
  3. Set the intention to engage in at least one act of kindness each day-the benefit of this one is obvious. The world simply needs more kind people!
  4. Keep a daily gratitude journal-Each night before you go to bed write at least two to three things that you were grateful for in that day. You will immediately notice how this practice helps you adopt a more positive mindset
  5. Get out into nature at least 3-4 times per week—nature is the light that fills all darkness. In nature we can’t help but feel connected to the supreme source of living truth and wisdom. Go take a walk in your local city park, go hiking in the woods (if you have woods near to you) go swimming or paddling in the river or ocean.
  6. Find a creative outlet-Creative expression is the soul’s natural expression of joy and spiritual release. Learn an instrument, pick up a paintbrush or write some poetry while on a walk-in nature!
  7. Plant a Garden-Nothing says soulful like growing your own food and vegetables. Plus, gardening gets you outside and fosters a state of communion with the Earth like no other.
  8. Join a community(sangha or satsang) of spiritual seekers-The benefits of joining a spiritual community (even virtually) are many. The great and late spiritual teacher, Baba Ram Dass, said it best in his delightful book Be Love Now, when describing the beauty of his own sangha centered around the great Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba(also known as Mararajii:) “It’s as if Maharajji has been my father or mother forever, and the satsang, the circle of devotees, is a family of the heart that keeps coming and going, having reunions and going away. Over many lifetimes, we all have different guises and costumes and appear on stage in different scenes playing different characters. We’re all parts of the jigsaw puzzle of each other’s karma.”

Mindful Musings: 12/13

11 Spiritual Mantras to Practice in Challenging Times

gold and white concrete building

Below is a list of 11 mantras (a sacred phrase or utterance) that I have incorporated into my daily meditations throughout this year. They have each brought me great faith and comfort during these difficult times. If they have worked for me, they might also work for you! Of course, feel free to play around with each of these mantras until you find one (or more) that most inspires you.

The List: 

  1. “The Power of God is within me. The Grace of God surrounds me.” -Ram Dass-
  2. “The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all. The Lord is the supreme reality.”                             –The Upanishads-
  3. “Brahman is all. The Self is Brahman.”-The Upanishads-
  4. “I am the flute by which the breath of Christ flows through.” -Hafiz-
  5. “Om Mani Padme Hum” (Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus of the Heart)                              -Buddhist Mantra-
  6. “Hare Kṛishna Hare Kṛishna, Kṛishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare (O Lord, O Energy of the Lord, please engage me in your service) -The Great Mantra-
  7. “Om gam Gana Pataye Namaha” (I bow to the elephant-faced deity who can remove all obstacles) – Ganesha Mantra-
  8. “Humans follow Earth, Earth follows Heaven, Heaven Follows Tao, Tao Follows Its own nature -The Tao Te Ching-
  9. “Love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God.” -Neem Karoli Baba-
  10.  “The Sun is my father, The Earth is my mother, The plants are my sister, The animals are my brothers”.  -Adapted Native American Prayer
  11. “No God, No Peace, Know God, Know Peace.” -The Bible-

Mindful Musings

“The Power of Loving Kindness”

By: Forrest Rivers

Home 2018 - Buddha Weekly: Buddhist Practices, Mindfulness, Meditation

Two of the primary purposes of meditation is to learn to let go and to recognize one’s interconnection to all things. During this period of mass sickness and poverty, Metta is a profound meditation technique that at once achieves both goals. Metta roughly translates to “benevolence” or “loving Kindness” in Pali, and comes to us from the Buddhist tradition. The purpose of this exercise is to focus on cultivating and sending feelings of goodwill to all beings. I was first introduced to it at my first group meditation I ever attended. The session was led by an inspiring dharma teacher named Dave Smith. Smith, who has made it his life’s work to aid in the recovery of those with substance abuse issues, led us through a 20-minute Metta practice. In that first sitting, we were asked to imagine sending rays of love to all sentient beings. This guided meditation so moved my spirit and opened my heart that I began attending Dave’s Sunday evening session each week.

Looking back now on that fateful day in early 2013, I am amazed at how completely this simple yet meaningful practice touched my soul. After seven years of reflection on the power of Metta practice, I have come to realize why it is so impactful: loving kindness meditations simultaneously quiet our restless minds and open up our wayward hearts. In these times of fear and uncertainty, what could be more inspiring than sending our deepest wishes of love and goodwill to the planet when we wake up in the morning or go to bed at night?

Through the ages, it has been said by more than a few sages that meditation is the highest form of prayer because it breaks down the separation between the external world and our own soul’s inner yearning for peace and oneness. If it feels right for you, you might find the following COVID-19 adapted Metta practice helpful:

“Find a comfortable position either sitting cross-legged or on the floor or seated up right on a chair of your choosing. Then, slowly close your eyes and bring your awareness to the center of your heart as you begin to inhale and exhale long deep breaths. As you deeply breathe in and out, imagine filling your heart with pink or green light(colors of love) on the in breath and then imagine sending that same light out to the world from your heart on the out breath as you repeat these words to yourself: may all beings be free, may all beings find peace and may all beings be blessed with good health as this pandemic passes like the seasons.” Try this practice for 15-20 minutes. But by all means, feel free to do it for shorter or longer intervals than what I suggest if it feels more comfortable for you”.

Metta meditation has the power to heal our minds and hearts. Remarkably, too, it could also heal the whole world in a time when we are in desperate need of healing. Two studies on the power of loving kindness were conducted in Jerusalem and in Lebanon in the 1980s. In both studies, Scientific researchers found overwhelming evidence of a powerful link between the practice of mass metta(loving kindness) meditation circles and lower incidences of war. As originally reported and published in the academic journal of Conflict Resolution (1988), during days of high attendance at a peace meditation held in Jerusalem, war deaths in neighboring Lebanon decreased by 76 percent. On those days of intention filled Metta Practice, crime and traffic tickets in the near vicinity went down as well. Incredibly, the exact same study was replicated again (with even stricter controls) and produced the same results as reported in the academic journal of Social Behavior and Personality (2005).

If Metta meditation practice can bring peace to a war-torn people imagine what it could accomplish in terms of alleviating all suffering related to COVID-19! When love meets prayer full intentions the possibilities for the evolution of human consciousness are endless. However, one question does arise: how can one go about starting a meditation or prayer circle during a time that requires social distancing? Max Reif, an inspiring writer for the conscious writing collective, the Mindfulword,org, may have the answer. In one of his many thoughtful articles written for this online publication, Reif relates how he has learned to tap into virtual online spiritual communities through Zoom(the interactive web interface program that has soared in popularity during the crisis) to cultivate the feelings of loving kindness:

In Reif’s Words:

“I rise, as often as possible, at 5 a.m. At 6:30, I attend “Virtual Morning Arti,” an international Zoom gathering of Meher Baba devotees. We recite prayers, sing two spiritual anthems and then spend an hour sharing whatever songs, poems, messages or anecdotes people are inspired to contribute. This event often leads me to great heights of joy! While the external world continues its hard slog, my internal world is brought to a point of shining—more than before the pandemic I think.”

Maybe, we can all follow Reif’s example. Is it really a stretch for our imaginations to envision meditation circles popping up all over the world through virtual connections? I don’t think so. Besides spreading some much needed peace and love right now, the emergence of such gatherings(even if they are only virtual) will also inspire hope…..the true motor of the human experience.